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Hadrons, Baryons, and Mesons

Like social elephants, quarks only exist in groups with other quarks and are never found alone.
Composite particles made of quarks are called

Although individual quarks have fractional electrical charges, they combine such that hadrons have a net
integer electric charge. Another property of hadrons is that they have no net color charge even though the
quarks themselves carry color charge (we will talk more about this later).
There are two classes of hadrons (try putting your mouse on the elephants):

...are any
hadron which
is made of
three quarks

...contain one quark

(q) and one
antiquark ( ).

One example of a
meson is a pion (
Because they +
), which is made of
are made of
an up quark and a
two up quarks
down anitiquark. The
and one down
antiparticle of a
meson just has its
(uud),proton quark and antiquark
s are baryons. switched, so an
antipion ( -) is made
areneutrons of a down quark and
an up antiquark.
Because a meson
consists of a particle
and an antiparticle, it
is very unstable. The
K meson lives much
longer than most
mesons, which is
why it was called
"strange" and gave
this name to the
strange quark, one
of its components.
A weird thing about hadrons is that only a very very very small part of the mass of a hadron is
due to the quarks in it.

Classification of Particles

The most basic way of classifying particles is by their

Hadrons are the heaviest particles. This group is then
spilt up into baryons and mesons. Baryons are the
heaviest particles of all, followed by mesons.
Leptons are the lightest particles.

Hadrons are subject to the strong nuclear force, they
are not fundamental particles as they are made up of
Baryons, the proton is the only stable baryon all other
baryons eventually decay into a proton. All baryons
contain three quarks. See the examples below.


Antibaryons, see the examples below


Mesons, all mesons contain a quark and an antiquark.

See the examples below.


Leptons, are subject to the weak nuclear force (they do
not feel the strong nuclear force). See the examples


Links to other pages in this topic;

Constituents of the Atom
Stable and Unstable Nuclei
Particles, Antiparticles & Photons
Particle Interactions

Classification of Particles
Quarks & Anti-quarks